Michigan State commitment Keith Nichol was confident in his ability before the Elite 11 Quarterback Camp. But after spending four days working out with 11 of the nation's other top prep signal callers, Nichol has gained even more confidence in his ability as a quarterback.
"I had a great time and I played really well," Nichol said. "I didn't feel like any of the guys were a lot better than me. I think the whole Elite 11 Camp was a confidence building thing for me.
"When you get there and you see these guys warming up, you see how amazing these guys are. But then you get out there and you realize that you are just as good as they are. Coming away from camp, I know that I can compete with the best quarterbacks in the country. It was a great experience."
Nichol played well all week long after finding his rhythm midway through Monday's opening session.
"The first day, I was probably trying too hard and thinking too much," Nichol explained. "But after Monday, I started playing real well. I thought Tuesday went very well and I just kind of built from there. Wednesday I threw very well and Thursday was even better. I thought I played very well on Tuesday, but I got better each day and that was very satisfying."
The Elite 11 Camp does not offer an objective way to measure a quarterback's performance but Nichol said the feedback he received from coaches, counselors, and campers was all positive.
"Basically, I think you judge yourself by how the coaches react to you and how the counselors react to you and the way the players around you react to your performance," said Nichol. "Me, Willy Korn, John Brantley, and Stephen Garcia were pretty much cheerleaders for each other. For every good throw, we were there for each other congratulating one another and giving each other high fives. You know when you are doing well, whether or not a receiver catches the ball. You can tell by the reactions around you."
Elite 11 coaches had nothing but good things to say about Nichol's performance. Nichol was encouraged by all of the positive feedback he received.
"They said that I had really good footwork and they said they like how quick my release was," Nichol recalled. "They also liked the velocity I put on the ball and my accuracy. Pretty much all the feedback I received was positive. One of the things they liked most was that I was coachable."
Nichol, Korn, Brantley and Garcia were inseparable at the Elite 11 Quarterback Camp. Nichol says he was drawn to the other three quarterbacks because of their demeanor and approach to the game.
"Willy and I have a lot of things and common and we got to be pretty good friends," said Nichol. "All of those guys were really down to earth guys and they didn't have giant egos. They were just normal kids and I feel like that too. I think we all kind of meshed real well and we all just hung out and had a real good time."
Nichol says he plans on keeping in touch with Korn, Brantley, and Garcia and is excited about following their college careers.
"I got Willy's number and everybody else's phone number," Nichol said. "I think I am going to stay in touch with Willy and some of the other guys like Stephen and John for a long time. I think it is going to be fun to see what those guys can do."
STANTON HAS GOOD ADVICE FOR NICHOL
Nichol said the best part of the four days he spent at SOKA University in Aliso Viejo (Calif.) was the interaction with the player coaches including Stanton.
Nichol spent a lot of time with Stanton. The Lowell (Mich.) quarterback had talked to Stanton on a number of occasions before the Elite 11 Camp, but Nichol said he hadn't gotten to know Stanton the way he has in the past week.
After spending time with Stanton, Nichol has a better understanding of why Michigan State's All-America candidate has had such as successful career with the Spartans.
"He seems to have played everything out perfectly," said Nichol. "He goes out and plays hard and works hard. He has a good time, but he stays out of trouble. He is just a good person and he doesn't let his ego grow.
"Drew knows that he is going to the NFL and everyone else knows that he is going there too. But he doesn't bring that up; he is confident enough in himself to act like a normal guy and not tell everyone how great he is. He approaches the game like he is no better than anyone else and that is why his players love him so much. You couldn't tell whether Drew was a first-string quarterback or a third-string quarterback"
Stanton and Nichol talked plenty of football at the Elite 11 Camp, but Nichol was eager to get Stanton's advice on the off-the-field issues he will undoubtedly face when he gets to college.
"I asked him mostly questions about social life and stuff like that. We talked about football, but there were a lot of questions on social life and football in general. We talked about some of the things you have to watch out for and he told me that I should be careful in college because everything is going to be coming at you real fast. He just told me that I needed to make good decisions."